Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Always In The Bulls-Eye

As part of Sunday's sermon, I did a quick overview of the Old Testament's Esther. At Small Group on Monday night, two different group members told me they had gone home after the sermon and read the book. It was new territory for them both. And they both showed up at our group with the same question.

"Why do people always want to hurt the Jews?"

Why, indeed! From the day when a Pharaoh arose in Egypt who knew not Joseph (Exodus 1:8) through the battles with the Philistines and their giant Goliath. From the desperate attempt of Haman (Esther) to wipe them from the earth to a similar diabolical plan executed by Hitler. Now it's Iran who is promising their total destruction.

For centuries, the kings of the earth have looked lustingly at Jerusalem. And the Jews have seemed to always, in one way or another, be the obstacle that must be removed.

Always in the bulls-eye.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Alternative Lifestyle

Today I intentionally went with a blog title that might draw your eye to controversy. As someone who follows Christ, I know far too well how quickly many people hear the term "Alternative Lifestyle" and immediately lean forward into their computer to read. Their pulse quickens a bit and a silent "grrrr" begins to dance around like a pinball in their voice box.

If that's you, I succeeded in getting your attention and I hope you stay with me. You see, I think it's time that we who claim to know God start practicing an alternative lifestyle. It's time to move on from our habit of griping and complaining about our culture.

I heard evangelist James Robison say once that, in his early years he was so angry that his ministry publication could have rightly been called "Mad Magazine." Sadly, I'm sure that some followers stopped reading when he started approaching people with compassion rather than vitriol. When we're honest, many of us should admit that we are like a bunch of Junior High students who are drawn to conflict like moths to flames.

"If we stop voicing our anger, what's left to do?" you might ask. A guy named Jeremiah lived a long time ago and he had a great answer, 'Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.' (Jeremiah 29:7 NASB)

If you really want your city to change (or your nation), quit complaining about the way it is. Pray for it. Open your eyes to the real problems of brokenness around you. Decide where you can be the most help, roll up your sleeves and go to work.

It's not that complicated. In my Small (home) Group last night, two couples told their experiences volunteering for the first time at the local food bank. Another young mom told how she is going with a third-grade class on a long and tiring field trip today. One guy regularly drives a shuttle cart ferrying people from their cars to the entrance of the local hospital.

My friend Lara has been wrestling with these issues a lot in her blog. A wife, mom of two preschoolers and teacher, she has noticed that we live in a very needy community that silently cries out for people to do something other than gripe and complain. I encourage you to read this post.

You, too, live in a city of need. Are you going to spend your energy griping and complaining about it? Or is it time to start practicing an Alternative Lifestyle?